EU privacy watchdogs expected to accept .Net changes

European privacy watchdogs are next week expected to accept changes offered by Microsoft to its .Net Passport authentication software, and to drop their examination of it, an official said last Friday.

A committee of data protection registrars from around the 15-member European Union will on Wednesday announce the results of an unofficial investigation into .Net. The official, who requested anonymity, said Microsoft has offered "quite substantial changes" to .Net.

But published reports earlier Friday said Microsoft's changes are minor. "After reading that they are being too lenient on Microsoft, the members of the committee might toughen their stand," the official said.

Jonathan Todd, spokesman on internal market matters, said the committee has been examining how EU data protection laws apply to authentication systems such as .Net Passport and Liberty Alliance, a similar system in which about 70 companies, including Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc. participate.

A Microsoft spokesman declined to comment on what has been proposed to data protection officials. "We will give our opinion when the committee formally announces its opinion," spokesman George Ellis said.

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